Is the renowned ‘hermit kingdom’ – North Korea a safe holiday destination to travel to?

by Balari Gabadamudalige
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Travel to North Korea


  • Introduction
  • Who can travel to North Korea?
  • What to expect during your holiday to North Korea.
  • A few things to keep in mind when you travel to North Korea
  • Final thoughts

It goes without saying that North Korea is definitely not a country that pops into mind when we think of holiday destinations.

This is because it is constantly under the microscope for its extreme policies and propaganda. As a result, the general perception around travelling to North Korea is that it is ‘unsafe’. However, despite the usual news stories we see on television about ruthless detainment and whatnot, it is safe to say that thousands of tourists visit North Korea yearly and return home safely. Therefore, yes, it is safe to travel to North Korea, so let us tell you how.

Have you read our article on how to maintain travel safety:

Who can travel to North Korea?

Basically, anyone is more than welcome to enter the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), unless you are South Korean. That being said, it is important to remember that you must completely adhere to and respect this closed-off nation’s many strict laws and customs, no questions asked.

Please note that this is NOT a solo holiday destination where you can roam around at your own free will. You can only travel to the DPRK in guided tours and will be accompanied by tour guides during all excursions.

What to expect during your holiday to North Korea

As British tour operators, we can guarantee that your holiday in North Korea will be unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. Everything is different here, and authorities will monitor your every step. However, if you are a travel junkie, ready to see the world through a different lens, North Korea will definitely be a treat.

travel to North Korea
Chollima Statue (Monument on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang)

The somewhat staged, well-maintained city with groomed gardens and statues of the ‘Great Leaders’ is basically what you get when you set foot into North Korea. The DPRK definitely welcomes tourism but with somewhat ‘half-open’ arms. We say this because the government only allows most tourists to enter the capital city of Pyongyang.

However, some tours have recently been able to enable visits to Rajin and Chongjin as well, but only under special circumstances.

When we think of travelling to North Korea what comes to mind is the famous proverb “curiosity killed the cat”. This is definitely something you should never forget during your stay. Travelling to North Korea binds you to some harsh laws that you mustn’t even dream of breaking. It’s more or less a “my way or the highway” situation, but the good news is all tourists will have a thorough briefing on the dos and don’ts prior to their visit.

A wooden gavel
A wooden gavel

A few things to keep in mind when you travel to North Korea

Although the capital city of Pyongyang looks modern in its appearance, we mustn’t forget that North Korea is in fact a hermit kingdom. As a result, the whole nation is alien to most things we believe are ‘normal’ but people have thought of North Korea a safe holiday destination for travellers? The country has completely isolated itself from the world and follows its own set of strict rules and regulations.

Here are a list of things you must know before you go:

  • Your passport will have to be handed over to your tour guide when you enter North Korea and will be kept with them during your entire stay for “safety reasons”.
  • You will only be able to travel with your assigned tour guide, to government-approved sights. No wondering around!
  • There is no access to the internet. (Yes, you saw that right!)
  • Always ask before you take photographs.
  • If you want to photograph the Kim statues, you must do so in their entirety. (That’s right, all 22 meters of them)
  • When visiting them, you are obliged to pay respects to the leaders’ monuments just as a local would.
  • Do not discuss politics, religion or any other controversial topics.
  • Do not destroy or disrespect posters of the ‘Great leaders’.
  • Act positively and praise every stop, keep any snide comments to yourself, please.
  • Don’t try to interact with locals other than your tour guides.
  • Listen to your tour guide. Your wrongdoings can put them at risk too.

Final Words

On a final note, North Korea is definitely a safe holiday destination that offers a unique experience to its visitors. It will definitely be worthwhile and educational to experience how this closed-off nation functions on a daily basis and also to be exposed to its history and culture.

Although it may feel like there are too many rules and that you’ll constantly be walking on eggshells, we can guarantee that as long as you are willing to understand and abide by the local laws, you are good to go. You should also have an open mind and show respect to this nation and its ‘Great leaders,’ regardless of what you may have seen or heard in the news. If so, you will have a rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience in the renowned hermit kingdom – North Korea.

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